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John Speed's map of Worcestershire, published in 1610, was derived mainly from the earlier work of Christopher Saxton

Christopher Saxton    Christopher Saxton was born in Dunningley, near Wakefield, Yorkshire ca. 1542-44.

In 1576 the Privy Council granted Saxton royal authority for his surveying work, and in 1577 he was given a 10-year licence to publish his maps. Later, Elizabeth I granted Saxton the right to a coat of arms, recognising his:-

Geographicall descripcion of all the several Shires and counties within this Realme ... now finished ... to his lasting praise ...

In 1579, under royal sponsorship, Saxton published the first atlas of Britain, with maps of 37 counties. These maps were much copied by later map-makers, including John Speed.

John Speed    John Speed (1552-1629) was born in Farndon, Cheshire. At first a tailor, by 1598 he had, with royal patronage, become a map-maker.

In 1610 Speed published maps of the English counties as "The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine", which was published by John Sudbury and George Humble at their print shop in Pope's Head Alley, London.

Speed borrowed heavily from earlier work, especially that of Christopher Saxton. In the map reproduced on this page, Speed acknowledges his debt to Christopher Saxton:


Speed however did add his own embellishments, including town plans, county boundaries, and coats of arms of local earls, dukes, and the Royal Household. His surveying was superbly complemented by the engraving skills of the Dutchman, Jodocus Hondius.


The map which we have used is from a copy published in Kelly's 1924 directory of Worcestershire, published on CD by The Archive CD Books Project. Cradley Links thanks The Archive CD Books Project for their generous permission to reproduce items from their products on this website.

Amongst the many references to Christopher Saxton and John Speed which were used in compiling this article were:

A History of Britain, Volume II: The Wars of the British, by Simon Schama


John Speed - The first part of an extensive biography by Ashley Baynton-Williams

Cartographers of Antique Maps

17th century Worcestershire map